Mae Engelgeer Studio Visit
Cult Dutch textile designer Mae Engelgeer has garnered a loyal following amongst the design cognoscenti who have long admired her use of sharp graphic pattern and bright colours. A recent visit to her studio in Amsterdam unearthed the workings of her design process, the inspiration she derives from her styling work and the importance of her morning cup of coffee which she ‘can’t function without’.
At what point did you realize you wanted to be a textile designer?
I think I was always busy drawing and being creative as a child. During high school I studied textiles and then went on to study fashion design and styling in Amsterdam.
My graduation collection consisted of lots of fabrics that I made myself using handwork/knitting and silk printing. From that moment I noticed that for me the materials were more important than the shape. This is also the moment where I signed up for a master’s degree at the Sandberg Institute. So I think this was the defining moment.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I find inspiration in everyday life, from living in an exciting city like Amsterdam. Also from the new and from the old, like vintage scarves and wrapping paper which provide great colour inspiration. I work as a stylist so I collect images all day long, which is another source for inspiration. They all mix in my mind and the end result forms a new collection.
Define your design identity?
I think my style is colourful yet not too girly; very graphic, with different colour combinations and yarn qualities. I want my designs to be a piece of art in any interior, so they have to stand out!
Your favourite drawing/design tool?
I do a lot on the computer lately, but for me the process starts by hand, collecting yarns and colours for inspiration.
What do you love most about your studio/workspace?
Daylight I think. I work at my studio but have my iMac at home. So this is also a working space for me. The studio is in a building on the third floor. There are other friends’ studios in the same building; we share information and ideas over a coffee.
Describe your typical work day
My day starts with turning on the computer before taking a shower. I answer a few emails, gather my stuff together and go to my studio which is 10 minutes from where I live. I go there by bike or, when the weather is bad, by tram. The first thing I do when I arrive is make coffee which I can’t function without. Sometimes I have meetings, or I finalise some production and then I have time to think about new designs.
Stylists come by to select some of my products for photo shoots. I often head into the city to buy some paper or other supplies. And then at the end of my working day I pick my daughter up from day-care.
Before I go to bed I always make a list of things to do for the next day. Each day I try as best I can to complete these lists! I often forget to eat, so lunch is always late.
I can pick up emails on my ‘phone, so during the day I can email from wherever I happen to be and in the evening I am often at my computer.
Lunch in the studio is?
Something easy from home, nothing special.
Lunch out is?
A sandwich with hummus or grilled vegetables, orange juice or fresh mint tea.
Cut flowers or pot plants?
Cut flowers! I only have one pot plant at my place because I am not very good at giving them enough water. Or maybe I should say the right amount of water. Yes, I suck at this.
I do have a lot of vases where I like to display different flowers. I buy flowers every week and enjoy picking them out.
Favourite time of the day? Night owl or early riser?
Difficult because when I am awake I really am awake. And I like to start the day with my family before I start my working day. But after dinner I also like to work for a few hours, and find myself being very productive at this time. So I would say both.
Favourite local shop?
The Options! store by the Damrak. A new shop next to the hotel, in an area very popular with tourists. That is also what makes it interesting. They have a very nice product range, items that look beautiful and stylish like notebooks, cards and cushions. They also sell some of my work.
Savon De Marseille, I picked it up at a market in France last year.
A big, inspiring city next to a beach, so I can combine my two favourite things.
This week I am going to see the movie The Intouchables . It seems to be very good.
I also bought a ticket for Antony and the Johnsons in Amsterdam. I could only get one ticket, because it sold out immediately, so I will go by myself.
Upcoming collection / projects or interest? Describe?
I recently presented my new ‘Woww’ collection, so will be working on the promotion and production of this. In the meantime I am already thinking about the next steps…